CALGARY – Despite getting two points, including the eventual game-winning goal, Dustin Boyd was more impressed with his Flames linemate Brian McGrattan.
Boyd scored midway through the second period, then assisted on McGrattan’s first goal as a Flame shortly after, leading Calgary to a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
“I was more happy when Grats scored,” Boyd said. “He said he didn’t score for like three years or something.”
The last time McGrattan lit the lamp was on April 3, 2006 during his rookie season with the Ottawa Senators.
Since that time, he played 91 contests without bulging the twine, including a five-game stint with the Phoenix Coyotes last season when he battled both a shoulder injury and a drinking problem that forced him to enter himself into the NHL’s substance abuse program.
“To overcome the addiction part of things and to overcome major surgery, it’s been tough, but I can kind of see the rewards now,” said McGrattan, who also drew an assist on Boyd’s goal and got into a fight with Vancouver enforcer Darcy Hordichuk just 2:33 into the game.
Brandon Prust, the third member of Boyd-McGrattan offensive line, also had an impact on the game with a pair of assists and two fights.
“Any way that you can contribute offensively is a boost for our team,” McGrattan said. “We know our job, we have to play tough and physical in their end. If you can get a goal or two that really helps the team and helps the guys get going.”
Netminder Miikka Kiprusoff made 26 saves for the Flames (5-2-1), who halted a three-game winless streak and moved into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche for top spot in the Northwest Division.
“We’ve had some stinkers of games and we responded the right way tonight,” said Calgary coach Brent Sutter.
Curtis Glencross, Nigel Dawes and Dion Phaneuf also scored for the Flames, who built up a 5-0 lead and chased Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo after two periods.
“They had one of the stronger starts that I have seen so far this year,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “They were physical, they were strong on the puck and they generated a lot of scoring chances.
“For the first 15 minutes of the first period we had a really tough time handling it.”
The Canucks (2-4-0) rallied to pull within two in the third on goals by Rick Rypien, Mikael Samuelsson and Christian Ehrhoff.
Luongo stopped 14 of 19 shots he faced through two periods, while Andrew Raycroft stopped all five shots he faced in the final frame.
“No one in here is blaming Luongo,” said Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler. “He’s a great goaltender and we gave up too many Grade A chances. We give up a clear-cut breakaway and (were) letting people stand in front of our net. It was one of those games where we didn’t play very well.”
Glencross put the Flames up 1-0 at 7:18 of the first period when he picked the top corner, glove side behind Luongo on a short-handed breakaway.
“We had a power play and all of a sudden they have a breakaway and they score,” said Vancouver forward Henrik Sedin, who had two assists. “That’s a momentum change and those are tough ones to take. The best way usually to show you are a good team is to come back from that, but they were able to score a few goals. So, it’s tough to come back from.”
Dawes gave the Flames a two-goal lead at 10:50 when he tipped a Mark Giordano shot out of mid air into the top corner behind Luongo during a Calgary man advantage.
In the second, the Flames extended their lead to 4-0 when Phaneuf blasted a point shot through traffic past a screened Luongo before Boyd neatly tipped a McGrattan shot out of the air and into the Vancouver net.
McGrattan then roofed a pass from Boyd over the outstretched glove of Luongo to put the Flames up 5-0.
Kiprusoff kept Vancouver off the scoresheet with a pair of dazzling saves before the end of the middle frame. First, he made a left pad save on a point-blank shot by Vancouver forward Steve Bernier before he turned aside a breakaway attempt by Alexander Burrows with his right pad.
Rypien scored his first goal of the season at 6:55 of the third period when he fired a bad-angle shot into the top corner, short side to break Kiprusoff’s shutout bid.
Samuelsson then had an easy tap-in goal during a two-man advantage for the Canucks at 17:02 of the third, before Ehrhoff rounded out the scoring with another power-play goal 39 seconds later.
NOTES: The Flames also beat the Canucks 5-3 at home on Oct. 1, the opening night of the NHL season. The two teams will meet four more times and conclude the regular season against each other. a Bouwmeester extended the NHL’s longest current consecutive games streak to 350. a Calgary forward David Moss missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. The Canucks played without several injured regulars including defencemen Mathieu Schneider (shoulder) and Sami Salo (knee) and forwards Daniel Sedin (broken foot), Pavol Demitra (shoulder) and Jannik Hansen (broken fingers).